I did something stupid this morning and weighed myself. It shouldn’t matter what the number says but it did and it hurt. Automatically the Anorexic voice started to kick in and it was like it had me pinned in a moment where all I could feel was how much I hated myself and that I had to change something. It’s probably the first time since treatment that I have felt it this strongly running through me and this time it was harder to fight because I had no one there telling me I still had to eat. It was something I was going to have to do myself. More than anything I wanted to go back to bed and just hide there till it stopped but I had plans to see a friend, have lunch and buy a new dress for a TV piece that I’m doing on Tuesday. All challenging on the best of days so doubly hard today. Yet I got myself dressed and ate my breakfast and went and met my friend. I can’t let this disorder strip anything else from me and so I did the things that I did not want to do. We had lunch. I bought a dress. I smiled even though I wanted to scream. It was difficult to not restrict today, to not revert back to something that felt familiar and safe. For the most part I didn’t…For the most I stuck to my meal plan and as people keep telling me I have to trust in that plan. I keep trying to do this whole recovery thing in the hope that one day it will feel normal but I don’t know how long that’s going to take and I am so worried that I am going to relapse before I even experience what that feels like. I need to be able to see that all this is worth something, that all this pain that I have been in and currently am in will be worth it. Recovery will be worth the tears, exhaustion and despair that the process causes. I wish I could see that as a truth and not just some abstract idea.
It feels like everyone I know is shrinking. I run into people I haven’t seen in a while and they are smaller or on some kind of diet or talking about their weight loss. It’s hard not to find it triggering or throw a full-scale tantrum that they are losing weight and I don’t get to anymore. It’s not like someone else even made that decision for me, maintaining is my choice just as reaching a healthy weight was. Yet there are days that I doubt whether I made the right one. Most days I think about going back even though I know that it will never feel or look like I want it to. It’s hard to stay here when it makes me feel so uncomfortable. My nurse came to see me yesterday and we talked a little about what I wanted, she asked me If I was in the headspace of wanting and actively trying to lose weight. I’m not. I can’t remember what I said to her but it was about the reality of the situation, that I have been through the cycle of losing weight and regaining enough times and that I am tired of it. The only place it ever got me was an inpatient bed and I’m not keen on repeating that experience again. Why it is so hard though? To know what you want in the grand scheme of things but think all the little steps leading up to it are wrong. Will eating ever feel ok? Will I ever stop measuring my worth and my level of self-hatred based on a number or the size of my body? Will I ever wake up in the morning and not have to fight the tears because I can’t bear who or what I’ve become? I don’t miss Anorexia. I don’t miss starving myself. I don’t miss how physically horrendous I felt all the time. What I do miss though and what I think I am grieving for is this idea that I had for so long, which was that this disorder was the answer. This was going to make me become a person I was ok with. I miss believing that by simply changing my body, I could change me internally. I miss an idea that wasn’t even real.
Definitely one of the harder days in recovery.
I hope your day has been kind to you though.
Do you ever find that when it comes to your Eating Disorder you feel like you’re splitting? One minute you can be this totally calm and rational person and then the next you believe all sorts of nonsense. When I am in between meals or at the end of the day when I have eaten all that I need to, it is easier for me to see that me thinking something terrible will happen because of food is kind of ridiculous. Yet in the lead up, in the moment and for about an hour afterwards, there is not a second where I feel calm. It’s like I’m waiting for something bad to happen so I can say “See!!! I was right. I can’t eat. I told you!”. What is it about this disorder which reduces me to thinking like a child who cannot be reasoned with? This disorder is so much about survival but I am not talking about mine. It’s about the disorder surviving when you decide to fight back. I know that it has altered my thinking over the years in an attempt to keep a hold of me. When one theory I had was disproved, it grasped on to another and that process kept repeating. Now I have the imprints left of those thoughts but don’t quite believe them enough for them to make me back away completely. Is this the best that I can hope for? Living with scar like reminders. I really hope not. It hurts me to acknowledge the idea that I want more than that…it’s not something that I usually do or at least not fully. I have always felt that if you let yourself be open to that, then if it doesn’t work out it is much more painful. I wonder though now, how much of that unwillingness to accept that I want more has fuelled how strongly Anorexia has managed to keep hold of me. Maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong and my attempt at protecting myself by lowering my expectations has not really protected me at all.
I Suppose that’s probably something I should think about.
It has been quite hard these last couple of weeks. I haven’t really seen anyone in my care team since my discharge so I have all these thoughts and questions bouncing around in my head and I have no one to take them to, so they are growing. The only time I can be fine is when I’m working. Even that’s a challenge at the moment because I saw something which then triggered a memory, which created a thought, which made me question my work and now it’s making me feel not very pleasant. I’ve seen it grow and know that if I don’t get a grip on it soon, it will continue to change again in to something else.
I think I’m driving myself up the wall.
Sorry for just throwing some random thoughts at you.
I hope your day has been kind to you.
I can’t quite believe that I’ve left it this long between posts. Things have been in some ways moving quicker since my discharge although I don’t know how much of that is my need to stay busy and making up things for myself to do and how much of it is actually necessary. It feels like I have missed out on so much and now I have to cram it all in as soon as possible. Logically I know that there isn’t a rush but it feels like I’ve wasted too much time to wait around anymore. I have a lot of appointments during the week (although they haven’t started really yet) and I suppose that’s a good thing. There are people there for me should things fall apart so that hopefully things don’t get as bad as they were again. I’m not sure I could do another round of losing weight and then going through the process of re-feeding. This time hurt too much. It broke something in me that I didn’t think was left to break.
People keep asking me how I am though and too often I am trying to find words for something that I can’t explain. I have this emptiness inside of me which no matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to ease. I want to be ok but most of the time I’m not. Part of me I think is still waiting for the day that all this stop, living in general stops being a fight. I am doubtful of whether that day will ever come and when I think like that it all feels so hopeless. Don’t get me wrong I am not spending my days hiding in tears or willing my body to give up. In a way it’s like I’m just here…potentially waiting for something.
Since I left food has stayed a struggle. In the first few days things were starting to slip left, right and centre and I panicked. It had not been that long and already I was fucking up. Had I not felt the old familiar sensations of an inadequate diet kicking in then I probably would have carried on, convincing myself that what I was doing was acceptable. It isn’t. I am trying to put back in things that should never have gone but every time it feels like I’m doing something wrong. How can fulfilling someone’s basic needs for survival feel like a mistake and illicit so much guilt? It doesn’t help that my body image is absolutely horrendous. I’m still avoiding the mirror and every time I glance at it by accident, a wave sweeps through me screaming that I need to lessen myself again. When will I stop trying to find answers there? Yesterday was the first day in months, certainly since treatment that I had some photos taken of me. They were part of a press release for a project I have been working on and when they went up online they made me cry. I look like an elephant and I don’t know what to do with that feeling. If I change it then I’m getting stuck in the same cycle all over again, even though I know it’s not going to give me a different outcome. Yet learning how to live with the way my body is seems unachievable. I want to not care so badly.
I am so tired of my brain.
I hope your day is good to you.
Finally my freedom arrived last Thursday and I was discharged from treatment. It was a day that was filled with mixed emotions but I cannot say that since then it has been without challenges. On Thursday I was incredibly excited to be leaving, it had taken a lot longer than I thought it would do and after 5 months I was missing my home a lot. I’m not sure if any of you have ever been inpatient but when you are leaving you get this buzz, which is kind of like adrenaline and it feels amazing. This is the point that you have been working towards, this is the day that you are recovered from whatever it is that is wrong. You make yourself promises that this will be the last time and that you are now closing that chapter of your life. This buzz for me lasted around 24 hours. When I finally found that it was wearing off, I realised that I am far from recovery. I left treatment but I did not leave the Eating Disorder. It has been a hard few days. Already I find myself wanting to give into the Anorexia. I make compromises with it, justify why I can limit certain things or miss them out entirely. I bargain and plead and too often in the end run to what is safest. It’s too early for it to be coming undone like this. Maybe my mistake – despite how self-aware I am – is that I was still thinking that I can just snap out of it. I can eat and be fine because I did treatment. I am supposed to be fine and because I’m not fine, I feel more despairing than ever.
Yesterday one of my nurses from the ward rang me up for my 3 day follow-up. Initially I wanted to just skip over it, say that things were going well and that I was hitting my meal plan the way that I was supposed to be doing but in the last moment of that thought, I caught myself. Instead I told her the truth of pretty much what I have told you. She is the kind of person who does not tread carefully with me or try to handle with me with kid gloves. She told me straight that I need to get my act together. I know what I need to do and I need to stop screwing around and get it done. Of course she is right. I do know what is expected of me but it is also so hard. I want to scream that I wasn’t prepared for this. My leaves were not consistent and because of that I didn’t get much practice in figuring out how to live with the Eating Disorder in my real life. I started to wonder if maybe I wasn’t ready to leave at all. Sure I wanted to, with everything I wanted to but I am doubting whether it was right. Not that that matters because I had reached the end of my programme…but I wonder should I have done the full recovery one instead of the risk reduction one. I had my reasons for choosing what I did and I think that I just have to remember those. I have to remember that I went into treatment for a reason and all I wanted when I was admitted was to be at a healthy weight. That’s what I worked towards and for now that’s where I am…but I wonder how long it will last, or should say will it last?
My community treatment starts this week. My team will be made up of a nurse, dietician and health support worker. I will attend groups and be monitored physically by my doctors. There are so many people around me to make sure that I don’t fail again and I don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t want to disappoint my family either. This is going to be hard…not shutting people out because it’s all I’ve ever done, but that is what has kept me unwell for so long. I don’t want to be unwell anymore. I want a life, and life and an eating disorder or incompatible.
I guess time will tell and what I need to do is keeping work, keep being honest and not let myself get into that place of avoidance and denial. I can’t do inpatient again. I can’t do the up and down of losing weight and restoring it. It very nearly broke me this time…maybe it did break me. So keeping that in my mind, the only option is to not let it get to that point the first place.
I hope your day is good to you.
Discharge is getting closer, 3 days to be more precise and it feels like I am tearing at the seams. This body that is now mine feels too big to contain me and I continuously get lost in it. There is hate running through me all the time and I cannot for the life of me lessen it or make it stop because the only way that I have ever been able to do that is control what I eat. I am supposed to be recovering and going back to forcing that number on a scale down will not bring me any closer to it. I despise that part of myself that only knows how to cope that way but I also miss it for it’s simplicity. That was all I had to do, all I had to focus on, the fact that I was actively doing something to change my way in an attempt to make myself more acceptable somehow made things more manageable or at least I could lie to myself that that’s what I was doing. I don’t know how to lie to myself anymore. It is true that I am highly self-aware and throughout my admission that has been seen as a good thing, it means that I was able to critically at times see what the Eating Disorder for what it is. However there are times when I think that that level of self-awareness is not so great. There is never a time when I am not questioning what I am doing or what I am thinking. I am throwing myself into this new life and I doubt every moment of it. I doubt that I am up to scratch to succeed it.
I’ll be honest with you guys, I don’t know how I keep this going after I’m discharged. I don’t know how I sustain my weight, sustain my intake, sustain my participation in life. People think that I am strong enough but I am not. I never have been. That’s why time and time again I end up here, hospitalised for whatever reason. I don’t deal with what happens to me, I run away, I hide behind behaviours, I hide behind the need for destruction. How can anyone call me strong when I have been broken by everything? If I had been then I wouldn’t have buried all that happened. They all think that I survived through so much, and they are convinced that I will survive this. I want to scream at them that I didn’t survive. That person that they keep referring to never survived their childhood and everything that happened afterwards…the only thing that was left. I don’t even know what you would call me anymore. I don’t feel whole enough to be a person.
I want to collapse. I want to not have to fight anymore to just hold it all inside of me. My nurse the other day told me that I was allowed to be emotional in front of her and all I could say was “No, no I am not allowed”. I stopped my tears, even when she told me that I had to believe her that I did not deserve this. It was not my fault that I was sick. It will always feel like my fault. It will always feel like I wasted so much. Last night I was at home, watching some stupid movie and everyone was living happily ever after and it hurt me because I’ve wasted my life to this disorder. Instead of living, I have been trying to die. Instead of building a family and a career and a future, I have been stockpiling one disaster after the next. Instead of feeling motivated though, I feel like I am paralysed by it. It’s all twisting me up inside and instead of asking for help…all I can think to do is to close down.
Apparently this week, is nearly break me, bring me to my knees challenge week. I don’t know what I was thinking when I chose my menus but clearly it was not thought through enough. I guess part of me could have been thinking that this is very nearly the end of my time here and I need to do as much as I can before I leave and my motto through this entire process has been “Go hard or go home”. It would seem inappropriate if I didn’t follow through with that to the end. Although I do see now that there is a fine line between going hard and just pure self-torture. After yesterday and the endless onslaught of food and this mornings weigh in…I don’t know how I still managed to stand by the end of it and be an engaged human being. Yet I did. I guess I’m figuring out how to bounce back faster from the takedowns. I’m beginning to think that I am potentially more resilient than I thought and even when it seems like I can’t take anymore, sometimes I can.
Reaching my target weight was hard for me and now that I am falling into the middle of that range I have to admit it’s making me uncomfortable. My head runs to the possibility of restricting, to make it into something more comfortable but I know that that is something I can’t do. I screwed around in the last weeks of my previous admission and set myself up to not be able to sustain it, I am not prepared to do the same again this time. I want to be well and hold on to working towards a life that doesn’t involve my Eating Disorder. I guess I’m just trying to rationalise with a lot of things at the moment and it does take a fair bit of energy. Yet the only way I make it get to the point where it doesn’t hurt so much is to just keep going. I think that’s the thing about recovery, even when it hurts more than words could ever come close to describing, the only way to stop it is to make it hurt even more for a while.
I have one week left of treatment but really only 3 days in treatment as I’ll be on leave from tomorrow till Monday. I’ve got to make it count and do all that I need to do. It’s not the end, I know that but I want to give myself the best beginning I can manage.
I hope your day has been kind to you.
How do I formulate the words to say that I am neither happy or sad? Or how one minute I am fine and the next it feels like my heart has dropped out of my chest and all I am left with is a hole, so deep and painful? How do I explain that in between place that I find myself existing in right now?
If you saw me, then you would think that I was doing ok. I laugh now. I make jokes. My personality has developed and turned me into something more than a numbed out robot. I don’t spend every day crying. I don’t wait and pray and dream of my life being over. Recovery calls to me more than ever and talks to me about how much I want to be well. Yet Anorexia is also there. That part of me, that disorder which only wants to twist me up in knots and make me doubt every step forward that I’ve ever taken. I’m afraid that the moment I let my attention slip or my gaze wander, it will be there, trying to consume me in a way that I don’t have a chance of standing up and fighting back against. Will it always be this way? Will I always have to be this vigilant and as a result, this exhausted?
My time at the unit is going to end soon and even though I am really looking forward to leaving here, it would be silly of me not to be scared. I’m excited because I have missed my life a hell of a lot more than I expected to and I want to go back to it…but I am scared that there is the potential for me to slip backwards, for me to not be able to sustain either my dietary intake or weight. I cannot do another round of treatment again. This admission has changed me but in the process it had to break me too. I touched points of despair that I thought I had left behind a long time ago. I had thoughts that I believed I had mastered and would never have to experience again. I have felt the pull to give up more times than I care to remember. I didn’t…I couldn’t. Yet in the middle of my treatment I thought about walking away. I was angry at myself for ever acknowledging that I even have an Eating Disorder in the first place. I was annoyed that I allowed myself to start to care again when all I felt was the need to go back to that place where death was the only thing that I wanted. It burned less to wish to escape. However I moved past that and as my weight increased towards a healthy BMI, my thinking did get better…and as much as we all want to think we’re perfectly capable of having clear and rational thoughts at a low BMI, we’re not. Our brains cannot physically do that. Yet with clearer thoughts came stronger feelings. Feelings are harder to deal with because most of the time they don’t make any sense, you can’t explain them but neither can you put them in a box anymore and push them out of sight.
Yet although I know that…I still try.
A strange thing happens when you get towards the end of treatment, suddenly you put this expectation on yourself to be better, that you can no longer take how you are feeling to your team. You tell yourself that you have to just deal with it on your own. I think I’ve been doing that for a couple of weeks. Taking my internal world and distancing itself from everyone else because it feels pointless to talk about. These things are so deep-rooted that I know my last couple of weeks on the ward are not even going to begin to check them out. I’ve been shutting myself up because I think a part of me wants to appear to be one of the success stories…even though I am not. The programme that I chose was a little bit about recovery but not fully. It was one that was going to help me learn to manage my Anorexia better, get me physically healthy and start the process of healing. The bulk of my work will not be done on the ward as many other people’s are but out in the community. It’s going to be intense community work but it feels more do-able then staying inpatient for any longer. This admission has taken up far more time than it was ever supposed to.
I will be out soon. Life will begin again and as always it is up to me to not destroy my own world again.
I hope your day is good to you.
It’s home leave weekend this week. I have needed this time away from the ward to just be…It’s so easy to get caught up in the world there that you forget there is something beyond those walls and the programme that you chose. I didn’t meet the ward target to get the leave but still told my nurse that I needed meds to leave and because he is kind of new and my actual nurse was away, it went unquestioned. I spent all of Thursday and up till Friday morning waiting for them to realise but they didn’t, or maybe they did and figured that I needed the time out too. For the amount of weight that I needed to gain from my admission, it has taken an unbelievably long time. I am still too afraid to let the control I place on myself go completely. When it comes to food, I do the minimum that is expected of me. I avoid those meal increases that were put in place to get me there quicker. Part of me knows that I am cheating myself. I cheat myself every night when I pour my milk down my bedroom sink rather than drinking it. In the scheme of things it such a small thing to do but it is a mental trap that I cannot get out of. I try…and then I tell myself it’s not the biggest battle to fight here, don’t twist yourself up in knots over it. Yet the guilt I feel does hurt. I should tell someone but I worry they will ask me to leave treatment and I am so close to finishing this properly that I don’t want to take an early discharge. I know it will not help me sustain this life afterwards…although again, I don’t know what this life is.
Am I even in recovery? Have I ever been?
I am doing relapse prevention work with my team and it was asked to me by another patient the other day, “How can you do relapse prevention if you are not in recovery?”. It made me pause and wonder. I keep calling and thinking of this admission as a relapse from the last time, but what if it isn’t? I was never in recovery last time. Those two years between my first admission in treatment and this one, I was simply trying to learn to live with Anorexia. I was never fighting it as such and in those last couple of months of summer, it was sitting back and letting the Eating Disorder strip everything away. I had a crisis BMI but it stopped being important. Somehow I convinced myself that that BMI was suddenly sustainable for life and it may have been for a while but not for long. Don’t get me wrong it’s been lower and maybe that is why it has been harder to accept how unwell that I let myself become. I couldn’t see it when I looked in the mirror. I still, looking back can’t see it in the photos that were taken of me. It’s hard to accept weight gain when you don’t believe that you need to gain weight despite what everyone around you is telling you and despite the numbers that are presented to you. Being at a higher number feels strange. The target this time round is higher than the last one because I wanted to get to healthy but being at healthy (or very close) is harder to deal with than I thought it would be. My world isn’t crashing down because of it but it feels like I am so tightly wound that at any point it could. I’m still avoiding mirrors but I know that pretty soon the body image work that I began a few weeks ago will lead to sessions on mirror exposure. I am dreading the day when that happens, when I have to actually look at myself rather than giving the mirror a quick glance over. It makes my insides squirm whenever I think about it. How do people live with this amount of self-hatred everyday? Strangely enough the one part of myself that I am terrified of looking at is my eyes. I have avoided them for so long because I do not want to see what they hold there. I am of the belief that the eyes will tell you more about a person than any other part of their body and I don’t want to see what’s inside of me. I fear it will be beyond ugly.
Leave has gone well though. It has been nice being home, even if it takes me most of my time to reclaim my space again. I finally get my flat to have that lived in feeling rather than an abandoned one and then I have to go back. Mostly I’ve stayed at home. Working through the day on Friday from my living room, having family round yesterday and waiting for my new bed to be delivered (It’s an amazing bed). Today I am going out to meet a friend in town for a coffee and catch up. It’s nice to do normal things. It’s nice to not be the patient for a while. As for food whilst I have been gone…it is hard to know. I think I’ve eaten mostly on plan but I have to come to see that I can not truly tell. In this I am too dependant on the scales to tell me if I have done enough or not. I need them to be my guide and yet I hate that. Surely I should know by now. Surely I should be an expert in this. It was tempting to use my own scales this morning to check but that would have been a bad idea. They are more than likely different to what the scales at the hospital would be and come weight day tomorrow that would screw with my head too much. Maybe that is something to take, that I don’t go looking for and engaging in behaviours that are only going to hurt me anymore. I don’t expose myself to that form of self-torture anymore.
I am getting better but not as better as I wanted to be.
I hope your day is good to you.
For me so much of my recovery has been about conflict. Each day brings with it that constant pull between wanting to get better and wanting to throw myself so deep into the disorder that I am not even capable of remembering my own name. In the beginning it was the conflict between admitting I was unwell but wanting to say that I was fine, as the disorder progressed it became about choosing whether or not to live or die and by the time I entered into recovery that first time round the conflict became about deciding whether or not I wanted to be well. That last one…that still exists. I know that I miss my life. I miss working and studying. I miss my friends. I miss the projects that I began and now feel are slipping through my fingertips because this whole experience of treatment is taking far longer than any of us predicted. I miss using my brain in a way that doesn’t involve and in-depth analysis of what I think or feel. Yet I still cling to the disorder and pretend that there is still a decision to make. I still have to decide whether I want recovery. I do…I really do but then I also don’t. Whenever I am faced with just the idea of food, I want to runaway. I get so overwhelmed by choosing my menus that it makes me never want to eat again. I wonder how do people do this everyday? Every time I accept that I have to eat there is a feeling that tells me that I am wrong for doing do. I think I spent so many years brainwashing myself, convincing myself that my body needs the smallest amount of nutrition to survive that now it is hard to shake off that feeling that a normal intake is too much. Yet hasn’t my body shown me repeatedly that it can’t handle having so little? I broke my body and soul so much by trying to adhere to that belief and it is only going to be when I stop thinking like that that I will actually be able to heal properly. So why can’t I stop thinking like that? Why is there still conflict within my heart when it comes to Anorexia?
I am torn in a million different directions at the moment. Each way pulls at me and yet they are all interlinked. If I eat, then it implies this…which then means that…and that then equals this…
I am learning that the war I began with my body maybe doesn’t have an origin as such. I hated it and tried to change it for reasons that are still coming to light and each time this new information appears I become more transfixed by how complicated the disorder can be. This running dialogue which makes me dream of silence is possibly a survival mechanism of the Eating Disorder. If I run myself into the ground so much by thinking about it, if I fight with it, if it doesn’t let me go then at some point I am going to ask for mercy. I am going to give in because the tiredness will be too much to cope with. It pains me to know this and also to know that I have to do everything to stop that from happening otherwise I don’t stand a chance.
How can I want such different things at exactly the same time?
I hope your day is being good to you.